So here is the plan that Kati laid out for us today: Try to get a few outings in that are really fun and rewarding for Gray so that he can start to build a positive relationship with the tether system and Hope.
Our first trip was out to Burger House, Gray’s favorite burger and fries place. We don’t usually go in here, we just do the drive thru because it is generally very unpleasant for us to take Gray into a restaurant. Because we parked the car instead of pulling into the drive thru lane, Gray go upset. We musn’t change our routines, you know. When he first got out of the car, it was a mess of straps and handles and boy and dog. After we were all standing and ready to go inside, things went better. As soon as Gray realized he was going to get his Burger House fries after all, he was good to go. After a quiet meal sitting in a booth (almost never happens), we were ready to move on to our next location.
We decided to go to the grocery store next. Kati wanted us to make a quick trip where we got an item for me first and then we could get something for Gray. We decided on fruit and then cookies. This trip was a little rough. We had to pull a screaming boy off the floor 3 times in the 20 minutes we spent in the store. I think we all felt a little traumatized after that.
Later in the afternoon, we made two more outings to the mall and an indoor trampoline facility. Both went pretty smoothly. I just can’t believe how much effort goes into making this system work.
What is so interesting to me is other people’s reactions to Gray and the dog. Before, people would just assume that Gray is a normal kid with a discipline or hyperactivity problem. I consistently have to apologize to people in stores because he will be screaming, or knock something off the shelves or pinch a stranger passing by. With the dog, people can see right away that something is up with Gray. I wasn’t sure at first how I felt about that. Now, I think I am grateful for that. If there is anything that a parent of an autistic child needs, it is more compassion from the public. I will take all of the kind gestures that people are willing to give me. Of course, then there are the people who are simply oblivious. Like the woman at the mall who just stopped in her tracks and said, “is that a REAL dog???!” Or the man at the grocery store who paid no attention to my child writhing around on the floor and wanted to ask me the dog’s breed.
I really hope that things start to feel easier soon. Right now, this is so labor intensive, I wonder if we have made our lives easier or harder.